With only two games remaining in the regular season schedule, the playoff race for Western Big 6 football teams is heating up.
Some teams have clinched a spot in the postseason, others are looking to punch their ticket and a few are already looking toward next season.
Moline: The Maroons (6-1) clinched a spot in the playoffs with their 27-0 thumping of Galesburg last Friday. It was Moline’s fourth straight shutout and it earned the Maroons the No. 10 spot in the Illinois Associated Press Top 10 poll, their first appearance this season. Moline is ranked seventh out of 63 teams in Class 7A. Another win, or two, will solidify a high spot in the playoff bracket.
Sterling: The Golden Warriors (6-1) punched their ticket to the postseason with their 56-35 victory over Rock Island on Friday. Sterling is ranked fifth in Class 5A, the top 6-1 team because of its 30 playoff points. The Golden Warriors are ranked No. 5 in the Illinois AP Top 10. A matchup with Moline awaits Friday to determine the Big 6 champion.
Rock Island: This is where it gets interesting. The Rocks (4-3) sit alone in third place in the WB6, but still need another win to even be considered for postseason play. Rock Island has 33 playoff points, which is the second most of all 4-3 teams in Class 6A. If Rock Island loses one of its final two games, it would potentially be in danger of missing the 32-team bracket. While the Rocks are in a good position to make it with five wins, their two remaining opponents, Geneseo and Quincy, both have losing records. The Rocks currently rank 26 in Class 6A. Two wins would guarantee Rock Island gets into the field.
United Township: United Township (4-3) has the least amount of playoff points in the entire WB6, resulting in the lowest ranked 4-3 team in Class 6A at 30th, according to IHSA. The Panthers have two games remaining, a road matchup against Galesburg before Sterling comes to town. The Silver Streaks only have two wins on the season, which will not help UT in the playoff point race. But Sterling has six, and it could be seven before the pair meet. The Panthers won’t be favored to beat Sterling, so the matchup with Galesburg looms large. After UT won four games for the first since 2003 in the spring, it will need a fifth in the fall if it wants to have a chance to make the postseason. A 1-1 finish might not be enough, but two wins would automatically put the Panthers into the playoff field.
Geneseo: The Maple Leafs (3-4) can't afford a loss. Even if Geneseo finishes the year 2-0, there is a chance that its 5-4 record won’t be good enough to make the playoffs. There are currently 16 teams with a 3-4 record in Class 5A and the Maple Leafs rank 14th on that list because of playoff points. Geneseo has 30, but the top 3-4 team, New Lenox, has 44. The Maple Leafs currently sit at 42nd in Class 5A. Two more wins would certainly help Geneseo, but Moline remains on the schedule.
Quincy: The Blue Devils (3-4) have a very manageable game against Alleman this week that would set up an enormous matchup against Rock Island on Oct. 22. Quincy has a low number of playoff points (30), and Alleman won’t help, but with two wins the Blue Devils could sneak in. Quincy currently ranks 38th in Class 6A, according to IHSA. A 2-0 end to the season is the only way for the Blue Devils to have a chance.
Galesburg: The Silver Streaks were officially eliminated from playoff contention Friday with their 27-0 loss to Moline. Galesburg has had three losses by three points or less. However, the Silver Streaks will get to play spoiler when United Township comes to town Friday desperate for a win.
Alleman: The Pioneers have been eliminated from the playoffs since Sept. 24. Alleman came into the 2021 fall season with a depleted roster and new head coach. The Pioneers will look to improve and rebuild for next season with their final two games against Quincy and Galesburg.